As summer turns to fall, it’s prime time for smart travelers to seek out underrated and off-path destinations they can enjoy with fewer tourists.
Overseas hotspots like Mexico and the Caribbean will always be popular at this time of year, and with good reason. The same goes for U.S. locations such as Florida.
These well-known places are great, and you can definitely avoid the crowds if you’re smart, but there are other options out there that can offer a perfect off-path fall getaway that might surprise you.
One such place is the southern coast of Mississippi, with its local tourism organization recently claiming that fall is the best time to visit.
To many, it might just be the name of one of America’s longest rivers, but the state of Mississippi has a lot to offer – including more than 60 miles of beautiful and lesser-known coastline along the Gulf of Mexico.
Here are six reasons why you should consider this underappreciated destination this fall:
A Hidden Gem On The Gulf Of Mexico
Coastal Mississippi is sometimes described as ‘the secret coast’ and it definitely has some undiscovered and charming locations.
Bay St. Louis has been described as ‘one of the coolest small towns in America’ while Biloxi has fantastic sandy beaches and is regarded as one of the country’s seafood capitals.
In Pascagoula, you’ll find photogenic waterfronts with wooden piers, and in Ocean Springs you can immerse yourself in the art scene. This is also one of the cheapest beach towns in the United States.
If all that wasn’t enough, there are a range of idyllic islands just off the coast that you can visit for unique beach experiences and wildlife spotting.
A Packed Events Calendar
Coastal Mississippi comes alive in the fall with a host of regular festivals and events taking place all along its sun-kissed shores.
The Annual Mississippi Songwriters’ Festival is one of the most popular events – it takes place from 21-24 September in more than 10 different venues along the coast.
Art and craft lovers will enjoy events such as the Peter Anderson Arts & Crafts Festival in Ocean Springs from 4-5 November, as well as the Mermaids Arts & Crafts Show in Bay St. Louis from 11-12 November.
Mississippi is renowned for its seafood, particularly in this coastal area where it’s at its freshest.
It’s also well-known for good barbecue and one of America’s most famous desserts, the Mississippi mud pie.
Sticking on the theme of events in fall, for food lovers there’s the 14th annual Taste of Long Beach event where local purveyors of the best southern food will be out in force to share their cuisine with travelers.
There’s also the Gulf Coast Shrimp Tasting Festival in Biloxi on 14 October.
History And Intrigue
There are a number of history trails you can visit along the Mississippi coast including one dedicated to blues music and another to country music.
There’s also the Mississippi Freedom Trail, which explores the stories behind the state’s part in the American Civil Rights Movement.
Affordable And Easy To Get To
The region is served by no fewer than three airports – Stennis International, Gulfport Biloxi International, and Trent Lott International – so you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a flight at a fair price.
This region can be accessed by road via Interstate 10, which connects it to major cities such as New Orleans in Louisiana and Mobile in Alabama.
For money-conscious travelers, there are plenty of free things to do in this region to keep you entertained such as beaches, public art, museums, and parks.
Pleasant In Winter
The southern part of Mississippi is the perfect place to go to get some fall and winter sun with average temperatures between 87F and 71F in September, and between 62F and 45F in December and January.
It’s part of the country known for short winters, which means that you can still partake in its awesome outdoor activities pretty much all year round – and without the crowds.
Kayaking and paddleboarding are popular pastimes in this part of the state, as is fishing. The Gulf of Mexico has some of the best saltwater fishing available in the United States.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com